What to consider before planning your trip to beautiful and dynamic Vietnam
Budget – How much to spend
The very first thing that needs taking into consideration before every discovery is obviously your budget. It is one of the most important factors as it will decide the length of your journey, your travel time, the accommodation type, and the places of interest that should be on your list.
For example, you are accustomed to being a backpacker to discover nature and save your budget for traveling instead of staying in a luxurious hotel, or you would love to stay in a resort, experiencing the standard service in an Asian country, and for the rest of the time, discovering those highlights in Vietnam.
Would you plan to visit Vietnam only? Or would you travel to any neighboring countries after?
So, for the beginning, consider your budget.
Travel Length – How long to stay
After deciding how much you are willing to spend on this adventure, you can devise a thorough plan for your journey. It can last for days, weeks, or perhaps months, which is up to your interest and how you spend your money.
What to explore and when to visit Vietnam
Embracing a great history of hundreds of years, Vietnam is a splendid country with one of the most magnificent beaches in the world and natural landscapes besides the developing pace of citizens. So, are you into beaches, mountains, history, or bustling cities? This will enable you to devise your travel plan more easily. The details can be found in the next section.
Because of the tropical climate features, there usually are four distinct seasons in a year in Northern Vietnam, whereas in those cities and provinces from Hai Van Mountain Pass in Central Vietnam, there are only two seasons that are dry and rainy. The seasons on those highlands are also different from the lowlands.
Therefore, you are recommended to do some research into the weather before coming so that you don’t have any difficulties such as stormy or flooding seasons, or boiling temperature during your travel.
Best things to do in Vietnam
Uncover the beauty of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Vietnam
Explore mysterious My Son Sanctuary
Situated around 70 km from Da Nang, My Son Sanctuary preserves a complex of Champa Kingdom’s remains from the 4th to 13th centuries. The cluster of impressive temples and towers was recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1999 due to its contribution to culture evolution, and the extinction of Asian civilization.
Photo: Vietnam Travelmart
Covering an area of approximately 142 ha in a valley surrounded by two ranges of mountains, My Son Sanctuary brings you to a wonderland of mystery and antiquity. A lot of towers and temples were partially or totally destroyed because of the war’s consequences and the weather’s effect.
Therefore, it’s a point of interest to not only travelers and families to learn about the history, but also historians and archeologists who would like to conduct research into ancient culture, architecture and etiquettes.
The best time to visit My Son Sanctuary is during the summer when there’s no rain. It’s ideal for traveling there in the early morning to enjoy the fresh air and see the sunlight passing through the gentle mist upon the complex when it welcomes the very first customers at 6 a.m.
Also, you can blend in the mysterious atmosphere at those temples built from red bricks with carvings cut directly into them. Those bricks were attached together following special construction techniques that have still been unknown, which has enabled those monuments to stand strong and still through hundreds of years.
Photo: Local Vietnam
Besides the architecture, the fauna and flora biodiversity at the sanctuary is worth noting, too. You can find those beautiful plants, insects, and animals during your visit, or along the little stream in the complex. Moreover, a museum was established for further information related to the history of the Champa Kingdom as well as the renovation projects.
Go for a stroll in every corner of charming Hoi An Ancient Town
Photo: BestPrice Travel
Hoi An Ancient Town was known as a popular trading port in Southeast Asia during the four centuries from the 15th to the 19th. Nowadays, the ancient parts of the town still preserve the structure reflecting the local and foreign ideas of aesthetic and architectural aspects during those years. Thanks to those features, Hoi An was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1999.
Strolling along those streets in the ancient parts connected by small alleys that are ideal for pictures, you can explore pagodas, temples along with those hundred-year-old wooden houses that are open to tourists. It must be a comfortable feeling to spend your time walking through the beautiful town.
Due to the rising number of travelers to Hoi An, many professional and unique brands are established in this ancient town besides those local tailor shops where you can order an authentic leather bag or wallet, or a suit in an incredibly short amount of time.
Photo: Lupin Danang Hotel
The central market is a paradise for local food like “cao lau”, Quang noodles, or Vietnamese sweet soup if you are a foodie who wants to discover the cuisine diversity of central Vietnam. Besides, many quality local and international restaurants can be found in the town.
It might be more crowded with so many people during the evening, but what you can experience are those streets lit up with magnificent lanterns in different colors and patterns that are also great souvenirs for your trip. You can take a boat trip along the river and light a floating lantern. Also, there’s a night market where you can find different gifts for your friends and relatives.
Photo: Ginkgo Voyage
Pro tip: For a special experience and a different perspective towards the ancient town full of tourists, you can try going to Hoi An at 6 a.m when the streets are not blocked for walking and the shops are still closed. Another reason is that it’s not as crowded in the morning as in the evening.
Photo: De An Hotel
Explore the royal living of Vietnamese Kings and Queens in the Complex of Hue Monuments
Situated in a strategic location for political purpose during the 17th and 18th centuries, the Complex of Hue Monuments are inclusive of the Imperial City, Forbidden Purple City, royal palaces, the Temple of Literature, and many other constructions related to the religion as well as the royals and locals’ demands.
Besides having been the administrative and military base during the Nguyen Dynasty, Hue Citadel is a splendid tourist destination thanks to its natural landscape i.e., Ngu Binh Mountain, where visitors pass through a pine forest to indulge in the sparkling sunset by the tranquil river, and Perfume River, which lies in the heart of the city, giving the locals and tourists the beautiful river banks for picnic or exercise.
The Complex of Hue Monuments is appreciated as it is a typical example of an eastern feudal capital where travelers can learn about the etiquettes, the traditional living besides the spectacular architecture following the oriental logical rules.
The best time to visit Hue is from April to June when the annual Hue Festival takes place with various activities and impressive traditional performances. An outstanding part of the Complex of Hue Monuments that you won’t expect to miss is the Imperial Citadel comprising outer and inner courts, gardens, and pavilions that were previously the relaxing venues for the royals along with the temples and places of worship.
Photo: HAVICO Tour
If you would like to travel independently, an audio guide in different languages is provided with a full map of the Imperial Citadel. It takes around 4 hours to explore the whole area, so you’d better start right when it’s open. You can also visit Tombs of Kings and Queens or pavilions in various parts of Hue Citadel that are still open to the public.
Photo: Du Lich Phuot 3 Mien
Turn the clock back to the Earth’s formation at Dong Van Karst Plateau
Photo: Vietnam Motorbike Tours
Dong Van Karst Plateau, located in Ha Giang province at the border of Vietnam and China, was recognized as UNESCO Global Geopark. The plateau features an area of limestone with high mountains and deep canyons that show a lot of evidence related to Earth’s crust development.
Photo: Lu Hanh Viet Nam
To travelers, it is a paradise for those who love going trekking on winding mountain passes, which is considered quite risky; however, if you are courageous enough, you will not regret it. After reaching Dong Van, what you can find is a spectacular view of the mountains and your own sense of achievement after conquering the difficult routes.
What’s more amazing about Dong Van Plateau is that it is home to Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys, which had been believed to be extinct until they were found again in the 1990s.
Photo: Fauna & Flora International
So, what else can you experience while visiting this heavenly place?
- Dong Van Ancient Street, having existed for more than a century, is where visitors can see the traces of history and observe the unique ancient features.
- The Mansion of Vuong Family, built in the early 1990s, is a masterpiece of architecture consisting of 10 houses in total. All the pillars and floors are built of valuable wood, which led it to be declared the National Architectural Relic.
- Lung Cu Flagpole in Vietnam’s border area, overseeing Then Van valley and Nho Que River, is also a well-known point of interest thanks to its historical value and current important role.
Admire the masterpiece of natural limestone karst at Ha Long Bay
Lucky to feature the 500-million-year-old limestone, Ha Long Bay includes up to more than 1,600 islands and islets with the natural evolution of splendid karst in incredible shapes and sizes.
The bay was declared a UNESCO world heritage site thanks to its spectacular complex of islands formed naturally during such hundreds of millions of years and the most extensive marine-invaded tower karst in the world. Besides the formation of limestone islands, Ha Long Bay boasts the biodiversity of fauna and flora to discover.
Cruising around Ha Long Bay and passing those beautiful sceneries, you can discover some highlights at Ha Long Bay, i.e. Sung Sot (Surprise) Cave, Ti Top beach, Bo Nau Cave, Me Cung (Maze) Cave, and Luon (Tunnel) Cave.
Photo: ActiveTravel ASIA
A peaceful and tranquil ambiance is expected as you can blend in the cool air upon passing through the mouth of the cave, with the clear water below and a marvelous system of limestone above. Many legends and stories are made up based on the diverse shapes of limestone formation in order to satisfy visitors’ curiosity and attract their attention.
Pro tip: You can take a bus or a train from Ha Noi to travel to Ha Long as it’s only 170 km away from the capital.
Wallow in the largest cave in the world at Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park
Photo: Incredible Asia Journeys
Traveling along Vietnam, you shouldn’t miss this splendid national park which currently consists of more than 300 caves and grottoes in Central Vietnam. Phong Nha Cave, which is open to the public, is inclusive of 14 chambers that you need to take a boat to travel from one to another. Some caves in the complex have roofs that reach even 40 meters above the water.
Photo: Phong Nha Pioneer Travel
Phong Nha Cave is really famous for its longest underground river, magnificent inside beaches, and superb stalagmites and stalactites. Not only is it special because of its range of caves and biodiversity, but it is also the oldest major karst area in Asia – 400 million years old. The cave has held many world records in the cave category.
Regarded as the largest cave in the world for the moment, Son Doong Cave, one of the spectacular caves in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, was recently discovered and explored by cave scientists for years, but still they haven’t been able to uncover how large it is. However, travelers are limited in Son Doong Cave to preserve the natural landscape and to minimize negative impacts on the cave.
Photo: Vietlong Travel
Photo: Luxury Travel Vietnam
Suppose you’re fond of trekking and adventures who would love to spend days discovering Son Doong Cave. In that case, you can refer to Oxalis for further information in this link below.
Take a boat tour around Trang An Complex inclusive of Hoa Lu, Tam Coc, and Bai Dinh Temple
Getting here during the harvest season in May or June, you may find those rice paddy fields on the two sides, which takes you into the dreamy land. Trang An Complex, located in Ninh Binh province, is where you can admire the tranquil ambiance and heart-melting natural beauty of mountains, caves, crystal clear water, temples and pagodas.
Traveling on a boat, you can get through little to large caves, finding beautiful natural works of arts, or visit those ancient temples and pagodas.
Photo: FLC Travel & Event
Photo: Tuan Nguyen Travel
The travel destination is inclusive of Hoa Lu – the ancient capital of Vietnam under the Dinh Dynasty in the North, Tam Coc in the South, and Trang An in the center connected by forests on limestone mountains or rivers and lakes.
Photo: Ky Nghi Dong Duong
Besides the spectacular experience of beautiful nature, Trang An is also the destination of religion and spirituality with immense historic pagodas and temples, which is why it’s usually crowded during the traditional Lunar New Year.
You can get here by train or bus from Ha Noi where related tours are provided.
Blend in and experience the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City
Photo: Vietnam Briefing
Witnessing an important milestone in Vietnam when Uncle Ho set off on his journey of finding ways to gain independence for his homeland, Ho Chi Minh City has played an important part during the Vietnam war and at the moment.
Embracing a bloody past during the conflicts between the two regions of Vietnam in the Vietnam War, Ho Chi Minh City is now getting more robust and more independent, leading it to become the most developed city in Vietnam with a lot of historical traces, tourist destinations, and cuisine diversity to discover.
Photo: The Independent
Your first impression of Ho Chi Minh City might be the bustle of the crowds and traffic congestion, which might blow your mind away as it is something that I think you never expect. However, it is just a part of what you are going to discover in this city. Impressive points of interest, shopping opportunities, and those signature streets for expats await you ahead.
Photo: Vietnam Travel Guide
One of the places that you can visit to dig deep into Vietnam’s history is the War Remnants Museum, which exhibits the artifacts, military equipment and documents related to the First and Second Indochina War. The museum welcomes half a million visitors – either local or international annually.
Back to the old days at Cu Chi tunnels
Traveling around 1 hour to the Northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, you will reach Cu Chi Tunnels – a 121-kilometer-long network of tunnels preserved by the Vietnamese government. Nowadays, the tunnels are a well-known historical destination in Vietnam to travelers in Vietnam and from other countries.
Cu Chi Tunnels were the living areas, kitchens, hospitals, storage and command centers with ventilation system for Vietnamese soldiers during the war. The tunnels were initially dug with bare hands, then expanded gradually when the war took place.
Photo: Vietnam Discovery Travel
Photo: Freedom Destinations
Photo: Top Vietnam Travel
Before visiting the tunnel system, you can watch a video to have an idea of how the system works. Emergency exit points are set up every 10 meters. If you have any breathing difficulties, make up your mind before crawling through the underground tunnels.
Arriving at this tourist attraction, you can get back to those old days, learning how the soldiers managed to stay underground for a very long time, and fight against the battle through those pictures and artificial scenes set up in the tunnels.
Tour around the “Nine-Dragon” Land – Mekong Delta in the Southern end of Vietnam
Photo: Culture Trip
The magnificent Mekong Delta, also known as “Nine-Dragon” Delta in Vietnamese because of its nine tributaries to the sea, flows through 12 provinces in Southern Vietnam. That’s why it is definitely one of the top tourist destinations that should not be missed upon your visit to this beautiful Asian country.
From Ho Chi Minh City, you can book a one-to-three-day tour to discover the Western Region. If you have a thorough plan in advance, a motorbike is also an ideal choice as you can stick to where you would like to travel.
Depending on your travel length, you can decide to cover all 12 provinces or only the highlights.
The three best things that any visitors would mention about those regions in Mekong Delta are:
- Ecotourism experiences: Mekong River is the paradise of fruit diversity and freshness. You can travel by boat with the vast aquatic area around to reach a fruit garden, enjoy your time exploring different types of fruits and eat them directly. You are bound to be surprised as a hundred types of fruits can be found, and some gardens even sell the seedlings.
Photo: Vacation Travel
- Signature floating markets: A must-try experience in those provinces is traveling to a floating market whose name tells it all. You will have the opportunity to go along the river by boat, picking fruits, food, and flowers or any other types of goods sold on boats. By the way, you can also see people making their home on the boat at the same time.
Photo: Mr.Linh’s Adventures
- Traditional musical performance: Those unique musical forms like “cai luong” or “don ca tai tu” are exceptional, originating from the South of Vietnam. The meaningful songs and performances are delivered through heart-melting voices that are sure to attract your attention and leave a profound impression on your journey.
The period from May to August, during the summer, is the best time to take a trip to Mekong River with bunches of ripe and tasty fruits, and it’s also convenient to travel around without the rain.
Dive in the tranquility and enjoy a relaxing trip at fantastic Phu Quoc
Photo: Vietnam Travel Guide
Reaching the dreamy island by ferry or airplane, you will find Phu Quoc Island as a young tourism place featuring 28 islands in total, beautiful beaches, evergreen forests, and secret natural streams. That’s why Phu Quoc Island is an ideal destination for those who are in love with a quiet and peaceful atmosphere, to escape away from busy and crowded cities.
Photo: Sunset Sanato
Phu Quoc Island’s coastline is unique and special compared to other beaches that you’ve ever visited in Vietnam since it is the only one that faces the West – the Gulf of Thailand, so don’t forget to dip yourself in the magical sunsets when visiting there. A well-known place for this activity is Sunset Sanato Phu Quoc, where you can take the most splendid pictures of yours and then enjoy a drink while waiting for the sun going down.
You can spend around 4 to 5 days exploring the whole island. Phu Quoc Island can be divided into three parts for your adventure – Northern, Southern and Eastern parts; therefore, you can properly arrange your itinerary.
- Northern Phu Quoc Island: You can ride around Phu Quoc National Park, visit the most beautiful beach of Phu Quoc – Long Beach with clear water reflecting the clouds, white sand, and a range of high coconut trees, or have a memorable time at Vinpearl Land. You can also enjoy spectacular seafood at Ham Ninh Fishing Village.
- Southern Phu Quoc Island: A historical monument that you can put on the list is Phu Quoc Prison to gain a deep understanding of the Vietnam War. Additionally, Sao Beach, Tranh Waterfall, and the enormous pepper kingdom are also top tourist sites in this direction.
Photo: Vietnam Travel Guide
- Eastern Phu Quoc Island: Last but not least, the eastern part of the island features Dinh Cau Shrine and museums in addition to the lively night market full of delicious treats and amazing souvenirs for your evening.
Photo: La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc
Thanks to the island’s location and structure, you can enjoy to the fullest aquatic activities such as diving coral reefs, kayaking, jet skiing, snorkeling in calm and clear water, or taking a boat trip to small islands. Besides, those bars and pubs by the beach are perfect places to finish your evening while you can have a rest on a pillow, order a cocktail, and enjoy fantastic music.
Cool off at the flower kingdom – Dalat
Photo: VnExpress International
Say bye-bye to the lowlands!
I’m gonna take you to Dalat – the land of flowers, splendid natural landscape, and cool-all-the-day weather at 1,500 meters above sea level. As Dalat is visited all year round by local and foreign tourists, Dalat’s tourism industry is highly invested.
Photo: Asia Open Tours
Coming to Dalat, you might be impressed by hundreds of farms of colorful flowers like tree marigolds, roses, hydrangeas, or even lavenders, which makes it a quality source market of flowers all over Vietnam. In addition, those waterfalls and mountains are for those who love bike-riding on the mountain pass and have a sense of adventure.
Some of the best things that you can do in Dalat are:
- Go shopping at Dalat night market for secondhand stylish bomber jackets.
Photo: Local Vietnam
- Savor cheap and delicious Vietnamese BBQ skewers at Dalat night market.
- Have a picnic by the heavenly Xuan Huong Lake.
- Discover the royal living at King Bao Dai’s Palace.
- Visit and capture vintage-styled shots at Da Lat Railway Station.
- Walk through vast gardens of flowers in different colors.
- Hunt for the clouds in the very early morning or watch the sunset from the top of the hills.
- Ride a tandem bike around the Valley of Love.
- Conquer the challenge of hiking to Lang Biang Peak.
- Kayaking around Tuyen Lam Lake with pine forests on the two sides.
- Calm your nerves down at Truc Lam Zen Monastery.
- Challenge yourself with a zip line or canyon tours at Datanla Waterfall.
What’s more to discover? Dalat’s got a range of local shops or international restaurants for your appetite preference. Put it on the list of your upcoming experiences in Vietnam!
Seek the authentic coffee beans in Buon Ma Thuot
Photo: Trung Tam Che Pham Sinh Hoc
If Dalat is the city of flowers, Buon Ma Thuot in the Central Highlands is the paradise of authentic coffee and orchids. Setting off on the journey to Buon Ma Thuot, you can relax at those coffee farms inclusive of not only fresh coffee beans directly roasted and grounded but also pepper or macadamia.
I highly recommend your visit to this highland city because of three simple reasons:
- The first is the spring-like weather, which means it’s warm in the day, and cool in the evening, which is my primary reason. Can you imagine yourself escaping from the boiling status of the lowlands?
- As tourism is not the primary economic sector of Buon Ma Thuot, there are not so many tourists in the city, so I don’t have to worry about traffic congestions or busy crowds at those travel destinations in the city.
- Spectacular waterfalls and mountains like Dray Sap or Dray Nur are unique natural landscapes that you shouldn’t miss out. Riding your bike for a long way, you will reach the spot, and believe me, it’s worth your riding.
Photo: Uncover Vietnam Travel Guide
Photo: The World Coffee Museum
If you are keen on outdoor trips or trekking and would love to avoid crowded places, take a nap in Buon Ma Thuot. Besides those activities mentioned, you can explore the coffee history of Buon Ma Thuot and the world at the two largest coffee museums – The World Coffee Museum and Trung Nguyen Village Coffee.
Photo: AsLocal CMS
Specialties in Buon Ma Thuot are distinct as they are seasoned with highlands’ spices and processed in a traditional way. A must-try combo is sticky rice cooked in bamboo tubes served with roasted chicken or pork ribs.
Swim in one of the most beautiful beaches in the world – Da Nang Beach
Photo: Pullman Danang Beach Resort
Being one of the three major cities of Vietnam, Da Nang is lucky to embrace the coastline along the city and easily approachable mountains which are Son Tra Peninsula to the Northeast, Marble Mountains to the South and Hai Van Mountain Pass (The Foggy Mountain) to the North.
This coastal city has brought you more than what you can expect, from natural landscapes, historical sites to cuisine diversity. The ideal length of the discovery of Da Nang is around five days to a week. Many expats decide to have their long-term stay in the city because of the tropical weather and the close distance to nature.
Photo: Vietnam Tour
Coming to Da Nang, you can choose to stay by My Khe beach so that you can watch the sunrise every morning, take a walk on the smooth sand and let yourself flow with the currents, or sunbathe and read a book. Below are some recommended activities for you upon your trip to Da Nang City.
- Swim, dive, and snorkel in Son Tra Peninsula.
- Visit Lady Buddha Statue at holy Linh Ung Pagoda.
Photo: Pullman Danang Beach Resort
- Tour around Son Tra Peninsula to visit a range of destinations like Tinh Vien Son Tra (Son Tra Bamboo Garden), Monkey Mountain, Indochina Magical Eye – the military radar station, Chess Table Peak, and a-thousand-year banyan tree.
- Have a walk along My Khe Beach and watch the sunrise in the early morning.
- Join the surfing or stand up paddle course at the beach.
- Ride on such large bridges as Thuan Phuoc Bridge, Han Bridge, or Dragon Bridge crossing Han River.
- Watch the dragon breathe fire at Dragon Bridge at weekends.
- Discover Cham culture at Cham Museum.
- Blend in the crowd at Son Tra Night Market, enjoy a variety of street food and buy some local souvenirs.
- Climb the Marble Mountains and grab the breathtaking of the whole Da Nang from the peak.
- Snap spectacular shots at the Golden Bridge on Bana Hills.
Photo: Pullman Danang Beach Resort
- Taste the local food at food shops or local markets.
- Take a bike to Hai Van Mountain Pass early in the morning for fresh air and having a full view of Da Nang City and the beautiful coastline.
Photo: Pullman Danang Beach Resort
In addition to those mentioned, seafood is what you shouldn’t miss when visiting this coastal city. You can choose your preferred type of seafood and how you want it to get processed at many restaurants.
Da Nang is also close to some other tourist destinations such as Hue Citadel or Hoi An Ancient Town. Therefore, you can combine those places on your tour to Da Nang.
Understand the thousand-year history of Vietnam’s charming capital – Ha Noi
Photo: La Sinfonia del Rey Hotel & Spa
Recognized as the Capital of Thousand Years of Civilization, Ha Noi is now the second-largest city of Vietnam, embracing a fascinating and rich history blending with the busy pace of modernity. It’s also the reason why first-time visitors to Vietnam usually pick Ha Noi as their first destination.
Photo: Amazing Vietnam
Upon talking about the capital of Vietnam, almost all foreign and Vietnamese visitors would mention The Old Quarter, which is famous for the popular picture of 36 specialized streets where you can have a walk, go shopping and explore the traditional aspect of modern Ha Noi.
The best three districts that you can stay in are Hoan Kiem for first-time travelers to the capital, West Lake for those fond of a peaceful atmosphere, and Ba Dinh for those interested in historical sites. Below are some popular activities in Ha Noi that you can take into consideration.
- Hoan Kiem District
Photo: Vietnam Motorbike Tours
– Leave your bed at 5 a.m and go jogging around Hoan Kiem Lake.
– Visit the holy Temple of the Jade Mountain in Hoan Kiem Lake.
– Join local folk games and dance in the famous walking streets at weekends.
– Admire the French-styled architecture at St.Joseph’s Cathedral.
– Have a deep understanding of the history at the Temple of Literature.
– Have a beer along with some finger food at Ta Hien Street at night.
- West Lake District
Photo: Why Amo Travel
– Have a coffee by West Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Ha Noi.
– Dine at recommended international restaurants in the district.
– Search for the best “pho” – a popular Vietnamese dish in Ngu Xa Street.
– Challenge yourself at the Lotte Observation Deck on the 65th floor.
- Ba Dinh District
– Watch the flag-raising ceremony at Ba Dinh Square.
– Cool off and refresh yourself in Hanoi Botanical Gardens.
– Pay a visit to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Uncle Ho’s last working place.
– Pray at the lotus-shaped One-Pillar Pagoda.
– Get ready to discover the Thang Long Imperial Citadel complex.
There are certainly more aspects of Ha Noi that you would love to learn about, so don’t forget to spend some days of your travel in charming and fantastic Ha Noi.
Conquer the Roof of Indochina – Fansipan Mountain in Sa Pa
Are you into exciting adventures? Are you in love with forested valleys, mountain tops, and terraced rice fields?
If you are, Sa Pa is definitely your next stop. Situated around 350 km from Ha Noi, you can book a tour or take a train to Sa Pa – a mountain town in Lao Cai Province.
Photo: Vietnam Travel Guide
Sa Pa welcomes a considerable number of visitors every year thanks to its outstanding weather condition, natural beauty, and mountainous terrains. Staying at Sa Pa, you can pass four seasons in a day – spring in the morning, a little hotter with the light sun, cool and cloudy in the afternoon, and freezing at night. It’s the reason why Sa Pa is the only place in Vietnam that you can see the snow sometimes.
Depending on your preferences, you can choose to travel to Sa Pa at different times of the year.
- Spring: Sa Pa is fully covered with peach blossoms and plum flowers, and the weather is ideal for traveling.
- September – October: This is the harvest season of terraced rice fields when you can dip in the ocean of beautiful endless paddy fields, so you can take a tour of watching farmers on staircases, take a panorama shot of this natural masterpiece and even walk in the fields. However, don’t forget to ask for permission before doing that.
- December – January: It’s the winter during those months in Sa Pa, so it’s extremely cold and rainy, and as mentioned earlier, sometimes you can observe the snow.
Photo: BestPrice Travel
Photo: Local Vietnam
This town’s highlight is Fansipan – Vietnam’s highest peak belonging to the Southeastern end of the Himalaya mountain range – Hoang Lien Son Mountain. Thus, you can challenge yourself to hike to Fansipan Peak, which is at 3,143 m above sea level, which requires a lot of physical training and stability. What’s more, you will receive a certificate of completion after the conquest.
What makes Sa Pa more special is that five ethnic minorities are living in this mountain area, so you can experience different ways of living, learn more about the customs and traditions, and join their daily routines.
Photo: Vietnam Embassy
I have to say, by experiencing your trip to Sa Pa, you will find your way back to nature. You can find some trekking tours through mountains, feel the cozy atmosphere at the traditional market, hunt for the clouds, or join the interesting Love Market inclusive of traditional dances performed by the locals on Saturday night.
Pro tip: Find a local tour guide to show you around as you might not fully understand the culture as well as the mountain mapping.
Fall in love with nature on Cat Ba Island
Not far from Ha Long Bay is Cat Ba Island, which covers an area of incredible beaches, beautiful cliffs, and isles. Cat Ba Island, moreover, was declared a natural reserve by UNESCO to preserve the biodiversity and natural landscape of the area. Therefore, it’s heaven for those who love sightseeing and would like to escape from big cities’ noise.
The first thing you surely have to do is swim, dive or snorkel at Cat Ba beaches, which are considered the most splendid in Southeast Asia. Also, Freedom Island features a two-direction beach, which means you can move from one to another for different views.
Photo: Sun World Cat Ba
In addition, travelers can join a trekking or rock-climbing tour at Cat Ba National Park. You can go hiking up to Ngu Lam Peak, from which you can have a view of Cat Ba Island with magnificent cliffs, clear water surface, and hundreds of isles.
If visitors would like to watch the sunset, the Cannon Fort, which was previously built for defense purposes during the war, is a popular choice. However, it might be crowded often, so make sure that you arrive early for your preferred seat.
Another spectacular experience that you can try is to spend an overnight cruise, extending your view to Lan Ha Bay with very few tourists and enjoy your private time in a quiet ambiance.
Savor diverse Vietnamese cuisine
Your travel to Vietnam can’t be complete without a cuisine experience. Traveling to several countries in Asia, I believe that the diversity of Vietnamese cuisine is a treasure to experience. Different parts of the country feature a variety of specialties and delicious treats, which will be absolute seasonings to your discovery.
You might have the opportunity to taste different types of traditional noodles, typically “pho”, in Northern Vietnam, Vietnamese pork rolls served with fermented sauce or Quang noodles in the Central, steamed in bamboo tubes served with grilled skewers on highlands, or sweet bites in the Southern.
What are you waiting for? Pack your bag, and get ready to discover Vietnam – the land of beautiful nature and friendly people!
1. How much money do I need per day?
It depends on your travel plan. The matter is whether you would like to spend most of your budget on traveling and discovering local traces, or experiencing a luxurious stay and dining at elegant restaurants.
Compared to other touristy countries in Asia, a trip to Vietnam is a cost-effective choice as the price of food, accommodation and travel is quite reasonable.
2. How long should I travel to Vietnam?
This should be considered upon your preference and travel purpose. Are you planning to have a discovery of an Asian country like Vietnam, have a holiday as a treat to yourself, or an adventure with your beloved? You can choose to visit only Northern or Southern parts, or travel from the North to the South, or only take a trip to those popular cities in Vietnam in days, weeks or even months.
3. What should I avoid in Vietnam?
If you are a frequent traveler, you might know that cultural differences are important. Before visiting Vietnam, you are recommended to read about the customs and traditions, although Vietnamese people are known to be friendly and very hospitable.
Besides, if you are unsure about something during your travel, ASK. Find an agent or a local friend (if any) for advice on the costs, accommodation and recommendations on places to visit.
4. What are the popular highlands in Vietnam?
Famous highlands that can be named are Dalat – the Land of Flowers and Buon Ma Thuot – the Coffee Kingdom, where you can experience the spring-like weather during the day, explore organic farms and enjoy the beauty of Vietnam in a different way.
5. Where should I go if I love mountains and beaches?
Da Nang and Cat Ba Island are what you’re looking for. Those places feature the country’s most beautiful beaches with splendid mountains and islands blessed by Mother Earth.
6. Are there any UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Vietnam?
Certainly yes. There are currently eight world heritage sites declared by UNESCO in Vietnam. They are the Complex of Hue Monuments, Ha Long Bay, Hoi An Ancient Town, My Son, Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, Trang An Landscape Complex, The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, and Citadel of the Ho Dynasty. Moreover, Dong Van Karst Plateau is recognized as UNESCO Global Geopark.
7. What are the top three influential cities in Vietnam?
The three major cities in Vietnam are Ho Chi Minh, Ha Noi, and Da Nang which are also the top choices of travelers in Vietnam.